“She’s asleep?” Malcolm inwardly winced at the disappointed inflection in his voice. Camille certainly deserved to rest after such a big evening, but he had a few hopes about what would happened once they got home. His earlier weariness was forgotten to the promise of them being together, in bed…finally.
Carrick decided that they should spend the night at that Caudwell Enterprises penthouse. Perhaps one of the best kept secrets in the world was that the CEO of Caudwell Industries lived on the top floor of his flagship building, “The C” as most New Yorkers called the iconic building, identified by the over thirty foot “C” in front. Mal could only assume that most people knew Carr lived in some expensive piece of real estate on Park Avenue. Little did they know that he and Carr just hopped on the private elevator and pressed “up” to go home after a hard day at the office. Carr’s dogged attention to their privacy had allowed them to have a few place where they could be totally comfortable and at ease.
A light smile teased his lips as he remembered Camille’s reaction. Yeah, she tried to play if off like it wasn’t a new experience being whisked from the underground garage of an office building to the private penthouse at its pinnacle. But she could barely hold up her chin when the door opened to their home. It was pretty spectacular and her reaction only reminded him that he was one of the luckiest men alive to live there with the man he loved.
Now, Mal smiled and leaned back against the sofa contentedly as he watched Camille, huddled into Carrick’s side, as his lover sat on the couch reading over some documents. Malcolm couldn’t help but become mesmerized as he watched Carrick’s fingers slowly run across Camille’s scalp and thread themselves through the tendrils of her hair. It seemed in Mal’s absence Camille and Carrick had developed some nighttime rituals, evidenced by the warm milk that Carr heated as soon as they entered the penthouse which Camille accepted without argument. Almost automatically she curled up next to Carrick on the couch and sipped the soothing white liquid, letting his and Carrick’s business conversation flow over her. After a few sips and minutes, she barely could keep her eyes open.
Watching them together, Mal also felt a small tinge of jealousy. In his weeks away, they had developed something that did not include him.
That’s what you wanted, right?
Yeah, he wanted them to get to know each other better, but now the attraction between them had been refined to an intimacy. Carrick and Camille had a relationship outside of him. His presence was not necessary for them to relate to each other. The truth of that thought was like a smack in the face. Again, Malcolm considered what he put at risk. Could he finally include Camille in his life only to lose Carrick? Mal had seen traces of it in their ease with each other throughout the evening, but it was stark in its reality in their living room. For a moment his mind brushed across the thought that maybe Carrick had made love to Camille already.
No, that is not a road I’m going down. Mal cautioned himself.
Instinctively, Mal knew that jealousy didn’t have a place between them. If their relationship had a prayer of working, they all have to have a little faith and the willingness to give each other the freedom to love each other, in all the ways that may manifest. Guarding the other’s love would only breed resentments.
Malcolm slid across the sofa so that he could reach out and touch Carr’s shoulder. Now he hungered for Carrick’s complete attention. “She’s asleep.” Mal whispered to his lover, the added heat in is voice leaving no doubt that maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing. Mal didn’t care to examine the small moment of relief that he felt when Carrick stopped caressing Camille’s hair to lightly rub his hand against Mal’s neck.
Carrick turned to look at Mal. He couldn’t help giving the other man no nonsense look he usually gave executives when he’d just discovered they had majorly fucked up. It felt good to finally have Malcolm home, but he had some suspicions regarding why Mal stayed away so long.
“You stayed away on purpose.”
Malcolm knew Carrick too well not to know that Carrick hadn’t figured out the truth. He preferred not to argue on his first night home. Mal looked down at Camille’s peaceful face. She looked like she was all of eighteen. “I have never seen anyone fall asleep fast, maybe we should have left earlier-she is out like a light.”
Carrick snorted and closed his eyes at Mal’s deflection, “Yes she tired, though she would never admit it. But I suspect what really put her under was the crushed up Ambien I slipped in her milk.” Carrick didn’t even crack open an eye at his revelation.
Malcolm almost bit his tongue, he closed his mouth so fast. “What the fuck, Carrick? Why the hell would you put that crap in her milk.” The woman already had trust issues and Carrick’s actions were not helping the case. Never mind the fact that what he did was a felony.
Carrick still didn’t bother to open his eyes. “You and I needed to talk.”
Sometimes Carrick was a scary motherfucker. “Holy Shit!” Malcolm swore, sitting back against the sofa contemplating the type of mind that conjured the things that Carrick did. Carrick must have figured out something about the situation didn’t sit too right with Mal, because he finally decided to open one golden eye and use it to track a completely disgusted Mal. Mal made on last attempt to help his love understand the error of his ways. “Carrick, on what planet is it okay to slip a drug in a woman’s drink to make her fall asleep, all so that you have a conversation?” Malcolm made sure that Carrick didn’t miss his sarcasm. “We have another ten rooms in this house where we can talk and not be overheard. What the hell are you thinking?”
Carrick response was succinct as he opened his other eye and looked directly at Mal. “Fuck you, and fuck your melodrama.” Carrick stood while holding Camille. Mal closed his eyes with a sigh. He heard Carrick walk out the room and then heard the door to their bedroom close.
“You know why I give her the fucking Ambien?” Carrick had quietly re-entered the room about fifteen minutes later.
Malcolm started at sound of Carrick’s voice across the room. He opened his eyes to see Carr leaning against the wall with his bare feet crossed in front of him. He had changed into his workout clothes, compression shorts and a tight fitted, sleeveless tee. He looked delicious, but his expression definitely held a, “Don’t Even Think About It” quality.
“Without one, if she wakes up in the night and if I am not there, she starts screaming.”
Mal’s breath caught at Carrick’s words.
Carrick didn’t move from across the room, but he stared at this lover with exasperation. “What the hell were you thinking? Yes, I know the business trip was necessary. But to stay away so long? You left me with a woman I barely know for weeks, and now you are going to question whatever the fuck I decide needs to happen to get us through the night?” Carrick unwound his crossed arms and pushed away from the wall. “You don’t get a vote. The night you hold her when she wakes up in terror, her heart racing, shaking like a leaf is the one where you figure what lengths you will go to make sure she gets some fucking peace.”
Malcolm felt the weight of the guilt that Carrick was unleashing on him. Still, Carrick depended upon him to find solutions to problems and he couldn’t help but step in that role again, even in the face of Carrick’s anger. “Maybe we should call Lisa? She could see Camille and work with her, get her to get past what happened on the boat.” Malcolm suggested
Giving him a look that suggested that Malcolm was a poor befuddled fool, Carrick answered, “You know it says something about a person when the fact that she’s been beat up and left for dead wasn’t the most noteworthy event in their lives.” Carrick continued with a much softer tone.”Mal, when she was a child, she was the only survivor of a house fire. Her whole family was wiped out. When she screams out at night she yells about flames. I didn’t understand what that was about before tonight. I thought it was metaphorical shit from the attack. Apparently, she’s getting treated to the vision of her family being eaten up by flames every night instead.”
Mal was shocked. Camille strenuously avoided conversation about family, so he thought that she just had a strained relationship with hers, like he did. He never imagined…
His lover broke through his thoughts as he crossed the room to sit next to Malcolm. Malcolm sat up.
Carrick cupped hand around Malcolm’s neck, and bent his head so that he could look Mal directly in the eye. “If we care about that woman at all, then she needs to know that we thought this through.” Carrick remembered Camille’s eyes when she told him of her past. He owed them all the effort to make sure that what they were doing was right. “She’s been through hell. Watched her family die and hasn’t caught a break since. The fact that she gets up to face another day is a marvel to me. We need to think this shit through.”Carrick said with finality.
Close enough so Mal could almost dissect the individual golden flecks in his partner’s eye, the feel of Carr’s viselike grip and the warmth of his fingers definitely had Mal’s attention, but he didn’t understand. Did he misinterpret Carrick’s actions all evening? “You don’t want her with us?” The deep pitch of Mal’s voice cut through the silence between them.
Suddenly, Carrick used the hand around Mal’s neck to fiercely draw his lover to him. When their lips met Carrick bruised Mal’s with his force. He fought Mal to open his mouth, biting his full lower lip, compelling Mal to respond.
Overwhelmed and unmanned, Mal capitulated. If he thought to resist, he didn’t have a chance before Carrick turned the kiss to something more, tender…wistful. Carrick stroked the inside of Malcolm’s mouth with his tongue, in imitation of what he would do once they were stripped bare and he could bury himself within Mal’s body. Malcolm held on to Carr, pushing the kiss farther, further driving the proceedings to another level. Carr seemed to falter. Like a basketball hitting the edge of a hoop, then for a breath stealing moment everyone watches to see whether the ball will tip in, or fall out. Forcibly Carr wrenched himself from Mal’s body and almost stumbled, leaping from the sofa. Sex wouldn’t figure this out for them. In fact “sex” might be the biggest mistake that they could make.
Carrick turned back to Mal with his fingers pressed against his own lips, “You see that I understand. I know I fucking love you. I know how to be your lover, how to be your partner-how to share a life together.” Carrick turned to the dark hallway, toward the bedroom that Camille slept in. “She deserves someone in her life who’s not going to let her down. She’s been let down by everyone she has known. I don’t want to be added to that bullshit list.” Carrick turned back to Mal. He watched as Mal stood to walk toward him. They were each other perfect match, the same height and in every way the perfect complement to the other. If there was any doubt, their time apart brought home how much Mal become as necessary as his next breath.
Carrick continued, “When she told me about her past this evening, I finally got it. I know why she so special. If any other man or woman had been through a tenth of what she’s dealt with, they would be in a lunatic asylum. She’s tough and she built defenses to stay that way. Now, she’s willing to take a leap. She wants to trust us to care for her the right way. I’m not willing to take that lightly. She is scared, but she thinks we’re worth it.” Carrick gave a wry laugh. “For all my holier than thou ideas about how the people she loves should have done better – I know I could really fuck this up.” Carrick glanced up at Mal and added quietly. “I couldn’t even be faithful to you.”
Was this the new Carrick? Something less that completely self assured? A smidgen less than cocky? It seems that Camille’s and Carr’s time together has brought down the eighth Wonder of the World…Carrick’s ego.
“I never demanded that you did.” Mal responded, he didn’t want to quibble regarding the fact that he had been there when Carrick brought company to their love making. He understood what Carr was saying.
Carrick caught a quick glance at Mal’s solemn face. “Don’t look at me like that!” Carrick hissed in annoyance, knowing how unsure he sounded. “Did you not see the same catastrophe that I did tonight? My best friends are still paying the price for not thinking their shit through before making huge mistakes. I sure as hell don’t want to be having the same conversation a few years from now with each of us with watching the other in our next relationship.
“So...”Malcolm cleared his throat. The sound that came out was huskier and strained than his usual whiskey inflected intonation. “So, you want to stop this before it even begins?” Malcolm need to be sure he understood what Carrick was telling him.
“Mal, I wanted to make love to her so bad in library this afternoon. I had to force myself to settle for holding her in my lap.” Carrick’s face was naked and desperate for understanding. “I have only felt that way with you.”
Earlier where Mal felt the pain of jealousy, he now felt only calm. Somehow, the more Carrick spun, the more confident Mal became. “So you do want to see where this goes?”
“I’m saying that all night we’ve been eye fucking each other and maybe someone should stop us long enough to make sure that we know what we are getting ourselves into, and not wake up the next morning to a big fucking mistake.
Malcolm only just stopped himself from shaking his head violently like a wet dog. Carrick was spinning so fast, Mal was beginning to suffer from motion sickness. He stepped toward Carrick and reached to cradle his face in his hands. “Baby, what do you want to do?” Mal leaned in close enough to brush Carrick’s lips with his own.
“Tell me that we won’t screw this up. Tell me I won’t hurt her. Tell me this won’t blow up in our fucking faces.” Carrick waited for Mal’s assurance.
Mal couldn’t lie to Carrick. He didn’t have a crystal ball.
Carrick saw the truth in Mal’s eyes. He sighed and pulled Mal’s hands from his face. “I’m going to work out. I come to bed in a bit.”
Mal fleetingly touched the tips of Carrick’s fingers as he turned to walk away toward the stairs to the gym.
For every step forward, they seemed to take five back.
Camille drifted slowly up from her sleep, similar to a deep sea diver gradually making her ascent toward the bright light from the black darkness of deep sea. As she opened her eyes she felt the slightly groggy feeling tinge her consciousness. She welcomed it. The slight lethargy was certainly more welcomed than the usual faint remembrance of terror that she woke up with when she found herself alone in bed. Carrick has always been kind enough not to mention those nights when her first conscious thought was relief to find herself screaming in Carrick’s arms. They made a silent pact to never make mention of it the following morning. What scared Camille most was that she never remembered the nightmares. As soon as she realized that Carrick was holding her, she could no longer hold on to the substance of her panic.
It was then that she realized that she wasn’t in Carrick’s bedroom suite at the Pride. This one was different, not frozen in the footprint of an era long gone. This bed was also huge, but it wasn’t boarded by a canopy. This room was all clean lines with simple functional furniture. Something about it tastefully exuded Carrick’s and Malcolm’s aesthetic-efficient and powerful. Camille slid from the bed, realizing that whoever brought her to bed had left on her bra and panties. She pause and waited for the discomfort of know that either Malcolm or Carrick had undressed her. It didn’t come.
It was time to explore. Well, maybe after I visit the bathroom.
After visiting the bathroom, Camille realized a few things. Everything was custom made for this house. The shower was more like a small, marbled room that had strategically placed showerheads all around it. The feeling was heavenly, but dodging the higher sprays was a little dicey, getting her hair wet was definitely not an option.
She laughed to herself remembering what happened when she told Carrick, about a week ago, that he had to bring her hairdresser to her.
“Why the fuck am I bothering to hide you, if every damn person you know, knows that your staying here?” Carrick asked nose flaring looking all alpha-like.
Camille imagined that she had kind of made a mockery of this protection thing. Her trainer had been by, Stacy was working on building back her strength and endurance. Then of course she had to let Hector, her dance instructor, know where to find her to resume her classes. What was strength without grace? Bottom line was that she needed physical therapy and Carrick agreed with a few grumbles. Madame, her piano instructor, was just as necessary. Camille was tackling a difficult piece and she needed her guidance. Camille supposed playing the piano was also physical therapy-Benny’s attack had compromised her arm and that affected her playing. She had been trying to figure out how to get him to let Anjae visit, but her hairdresser, Antoine, was an emergency call.Living with Carrick over the last few weeks had some benefits, she was getting good idea of how to handle him.
So Carricks was surprised when, an hour after him vetoing Antoine’s visit, he received a message asking him to meet her in the bathroom of his bedroom suite and she shoved a rattail comb and a box of in his hand. “What the hell is this?” He asked, with is eyebrow in the pike position, all the while trying to figure out what Dark & Lovely had to do with him.
Camille answered smugly, “Really Carrick, reading is fundamental. That is a box of relaxer that can be applied at home.” Camille settled herself in a chair that she brought into the bathroom from the bedroom. She nothing more that one of his white t-shirts and some Capri workout pants. She shuddered the think that she was sitting in a probably priceless chair while Carrick flung around a chemical that he was inexperienced with. What a woman had to do to teach a man a lesson. Camille prayed he didn’t call her bluff and actually make her let him put that store bought stuff in her hair.
Carrick stared at her reflection through the mirror silently giving his best, “What The Fuck” expression.
Camille sighed with mock impatience. “Look, if you won’t let Antoine come to me, then you become Antoine.” She silently laughed inside at Carrick’s look of horror. “So make sure you put on those plastic gloves that are attached to the directions inside. Your hands might be a little big, but make it work. You won’t appreciate the first degree burns if you don’t.”
Instantly Carrick dropped the box.
Camille choked back a laugh and blithely continued her instructions, “You better pick that up, you can’t apply it while it’s still in the box. First, you need to mix the two solutions inside to activate the chemical. You have about fifteen minutes to apply it all to the new growth on my head. My scalp is sensitive, so if you take more than fifteen minutes, I’ll start to burn. After you apply it all around, make sure you run that comb over my edges, so they are bone straight, but you can’t touch the stuff that has already been relaxed, or it will start to break off.
Carrick looked at her like she had grown two head in two seconds flat. All he heard was plastic gloves…chemicals…burns…fifteen minutes and …bone straight. To hell with that! He shook his head in defeat as he kicked the box across the bathroom. He scowled at the grin of triumph on her face. When he turned to leave, he heard Camille taunt, “Antoine, Antoine, leaving so soon. The least you could do is grease my scalp?” Camille waved a jar he recognized as petroleum jelly at him.
“Fuck you.” Carrick growled as he left the room, stuffing his hands into his pockets.
The real Antoine was welcomed into The Pride a few hours later.
Laughing to herself at the memory, she acknowledged matching wits with Carrick was invigorating. But now she needed something to wear. Walking around their house naked, didn’t seem like the way to go. It was past twelve and something in her needed to know where they were. She stepped out of the bathroom and saw another door adjacent to it. She opened it and walked into a haberdashery. At least it felt like one. She was surrounded by men’s clothes, accessories, and all the other accoutrements that one would associate with a man. The walls were lined with clothes, shelves, and draws. The middle of the room held a counter that had every tie, undergarment, cuff link, sock, bottle of cologne carefully catalogued and meticulously laid out. The air was faintly scented by the smells she would always associate with Carrick and Malcolm. There was a certain sensualism about the room. These were the clothes that touched the bodies of the man she was in love with. They came into this room and this mixture of cotton, wool and silk guarded them from prying eyes. As Camille toured the room she let her fingers graze the clothes on the wall. Touching the fabrics somehow acted like aphrodisiac, Camille’s yearning for them grew. Finally she came to pristine, white cotton, business shirt. She couldn’t help but put it on. The was something so decadent in threading her cocoa colored arms through the shirt, feeling it brush the fine hairs on her arms.. She had no idea whose it was, but it’s bottom caught the at the upper part of her thigh. She crossed the room and touched their ties. For a moment she played with the idea of wrapping one around her neck and tying a Half Windsor Knot. Maybe another time. She turned to leave the room, in search of her men.
Along the way to him she had stopped and looked through each door and noted a series of rooms. The penthouse was palatial. When she found the stairs that lead upward, she climbed carefully, giving deference to the lingering weakness in her legs. Maybe the heels earlier in the evening were a bad idea.
The softly-lit room showcased a space reserved for purposeful meditation. Walls seemingly hewn from solid stone, only perfected the subterranean grotto effect with the encased body of water as its focal point. Her eyes fought the knowledge that she wasn’t in any underground chamber when she knew for a fact that she was on the top most level of a Manhattan skyscraper.
She watched him, mesmerized by the efficiency in which he swam his laps. Ruthless precision, aptly described the motion of his arms swinging over his head again and again cutting through the water to propel him forward. Lean long legs following, elegantly, almost negligently motoring behind the bite of his arms and shoulders playing cat and mouse games with the open air and the naked eye, in the space between each blink she could almost see the sinuous muscle of a sable arm glance out of the water, futilely trying to bisect the gray blue expanse like a plow on a snowy day.
Before she knew it Camille felt her toes wrap around the edge of the rectangle that nearly took over the room, unconsciously moving closer to the man pushing his limits in the pool in front of her. It had to be some metaphor for her life, standing on the edge of life, then taking a leap of faith.
“Hey, you’re supposed to be asleep.”
Camille didn’t see him swim up to her, she was so lost in her thoughts. She smiled down at him as he gently tugged on a painted toe. She had talked Carrick into doing that too.
“You mean the Ambien that Carrick keeps slipping me at night should have knocked out for the whole night?” She smiled as a varying array of emotions chasing across Malcolm face and nodded. “Yes, I’ve known what he has been doing. I’m not pressing charges because I understand why. He cares and it saves us from having the argument where I try to save face. He keeps slipping me mickies and I can continue to pretend that I am indestructible.” She carefully stooped to get a little closer to his level. “It’s a fair trade.”
“You two are crazy.” Malcolm acknowledged.
Camille shrugged. That might be an accurate assessment.
For a moment Camille hesitated. She wasn’t much of a swimmer, certainly nothing like him. But then the look in his eyes showed that there might not be a lot of the doggy paddle involved in what he was proposing.
Malcolm saw her indecision and misinterpreted it for distrust. He urged, “Believe in me.” Camille watched as he eyes darted over her left shoulder. She followed them to see Carrick standing off to the side behind her. He must have just finished his workout because he was wiping sweat off of his forehead, all the while watching them at the pool.
They were having another one of the private, subliminal conversations because after a moment of talking with their eyes, Malcolm said it again and this time unmistakably directing his words to Carrick. “Believe in us.”
It was obvious that Malcolm was reassuring Carrick of something. At that moment Camille really didn’t care. The sexual frustration that they all had been battling for weeks seemed to finally come to a head. The logical part of her brain was no longer in residence. The only process that was working like a finely tuned instrument was her inferior temporal cortex, which was telling her that if she did anything to screw this up it would pack its bags and leave for parts unknown-and good luck feeling this level of desire again.
Suddenly, Malcolm’s eyes swung to hers. She saw something in there that she had never seen before- Something dark, mysterious…primal. Could it be? Her sweet, supportive Malcolm could be something entirely different when in bed? Could his tentative touch mask something else? She smiled triumphantly to herself. God knows I game to find out.
She stood up from her crouch a little too fast and while trying to catch herself, realized that she was heading into the water. Somehow Carrick managed to move quick enough for a save before she made an unexpected fall into the water. He pulled her up while turning her around so that her legs and arms were wrapped around his waist. His show of strength and power only stoked her lust levels higher. Camille was actually beginning to feel light headed. All of the sudden her pussy was pressed against something long and hard. Everything on her body that could salivate…did. Camille tried to smother groan by pressing her mouth against the firm curve of Carrick’s neck. She tasted his sweat. Her pussy pulsated with want. She couldn’t’ help herself, she locked her legs around Carrick and used them and her arms around his neck as leverage to rub herself against him.
Now it was Carrick’s time to groan. “Bitch”. He ran his tongue along the curve of her neck, gently biting the vein that kept beat with her heart.
Camille couldn’t argue with the truth. She was a Bitch and now she was in heat. The question was what he and Malcolm were going to do about it. Tonight might be all they had and she planned give in to every impulse she ever had when it came to them. She never felt this way before. She was a living organism of need and all she knew was that Carrick and Mal were the key to stop the yearning. She felt powerful and free with each groan she managed to wring out of Carrick. He was her equal, half her match. Knowing that the other part their faction watched them from the pool made the moment particularly potent.
“You gonna spank your Bitch.” Camille murmured in his ear.
Carrick didn’t even skip a beat.
“Malcolm, get out the damn water before one of us manages to drown trying to float and fuck. Every one isn’t part fish.” Carrick turned away from the pool to carry Camille purposefully out of the room.
Now, Camille pressed her lips in to Carrick’s neck, not to suppress another groan, but to hamper her cry of laughter. That’s her Carrick, brusque and to the point. She glanced down at sound of Malcolm pulling himself out of the water and her breath hitched.
The moment her legs reactively clenched again around his body, Carrick knew instantly what she was seeing behind him. Malcolm in Speedo bikini briefs was something that Shakespeare would have written sonnets about. After one vacation with that sight greeting him every morning, Carrick retrofitted the penthouse with a pool and made sure that Mal had a lifetime supply of those little triangles of spandex at hand. His particular favorite was white against Mal’s dark skin.
Carrick snorted to himself. How do I love thee…” Indeed. After so long apart, there would be no counting necessary, Carrick planned to enumerate a thousand reasons, using every visual aid at his disposal.
He had all intentions of being a good boy tonight, that’s why he tried to work himself out to near exhaustion. The plan was to make sure he didn’t have his hands on anybody’s package until he was sure that they all were on the same page. But was he supposed to be super human? Doesn’t every man have his breaking point? For God’s sake he came out of the gym to see Camille with his shirt on-looking as sexy as hell- talking to a dripping wet Mal.
Well, welcome to my breaking point.
He was going to punish them both. Punish them for shredding his self restraint and eviscerating his good intentions. He charged down the steps, Camille’s pussy slapping against his cock with each step, then purposefully walked toward their bedroom. In his mind, this whole thing would be a wash if he didn’t come so hard and so often that his cock hurt. In fact, if his dick didn’t feel like it needed to be in traction in the morning, he planned to be morally outraged.